February 4, 1922 ~ July 14, 2017
Mrs. Mary Frances Johnson Jefferson
February 4, 1922 - July 14, 2017
Mary Frances Johnson was born on February 4, 1922 at Meharry Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee to parents William John Johnson and Mary Lillian Drew Johnson. She was the third of six children, in a close-knit family of one boy and five girls. Except for a brief period that the family relocated to Columbus, Ohio, the Johnson family grew up in Nashville with Mary Frances attending Carter Lawrence Elementary, Cameron Junior High, and Pearl Senior High. The Johnson family were members of John Wesley Methodist Church and Mary Frances accepted Christ during a revival at age 11. She was baptized in a local river and often with humor shared that experience through the years that she had a moment of thinking she might drown during the baptism. From that day on Mary Frances lived a life fully committed to Christ and worked tirelessly in many ministries throughout her life.
After graduation from Pearl Senior High, Mary Frances completed her first two years of college at Tennessee State. At 19 years of age, following the death of her father, she received a scholarship from the Women's Society of Christian Service (aka United Methodist Women) to attend Gammon Theological Seminary for a degree in Religious Education while simultaneously attending Clark College to complete her undergraduate studies. Mary Frances fondly remembered her excitement about leaving Nashville and beginning the first part of her adult journey. Her mother really questioned her direction and wasn't happy about her going away to school in Atlanta, Georgia, but she couldn't deny Mary Frances the opportunity. That was the fateful decision that changed the entire course of her life. In May 1943, Mary Frances was the only female graduate in her class at Gammon Theological Seminary alongside nine men, one of whom was to become her future husband.
Upon completion of her studies, Mary Frances returned to Nashville briefly before accepting a job in Baltimore at Morgan State College, serving as secretary to the director and responsible for the religious and recreational activities of the college students. Simultaneously, her future husband, Rev. Matthew Moore Jefferson, Jr. returned to Baltimore, Maryland and accepted his first appointment to Sparrows Point Methodist Church in Maryland. By April of 1944, Mary Frances and Matthew married and began the next phase of her life being of service as a minister's wife to that small congregation. During the next four years, they became the parents to their first two children Matthew, III and Willa.
In 1950, the family boarded the Super Chief train to San Diego, CA, for their father’s next appointment at St. Paul Methodist Church. By 1951, while pregnant with their third child, Phyllis, Mary Frances became an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., in the Epsilon Xi Omega Chapter, and periodically worked as a substitute teacher. In 1955, Mary Frances and Matthew accepted their next church assignment and moved to Los Angeles at St. John Methodist Church where the twins, William and Lillian, were born. By this time, Mary Frances had her hands full with five children serving as a Cub Scout den mother, Camp Fire leader, PTA member, Vacation Bible School Teacher, and part-time student at Pepperdine College.
In 1961, the next church assignment was in Pasadena at Scott Methodist Church where Mary Frances eventually worked part-time as a Release Time Education teacher with the Pasadena Council of Churches. As the twins approached their college years, Mary Frances decided it was time to seek full-time employment, so in 1969, she returned to school at Pasadena Nazarene College, now known as Point Loma Nazarene University, to qualify for her California teaching credential. After receiving a degree in English in 1970, Mary Frances taught Elementary Education for the next fourteen years.
In 1972, her husband accepted his next assignment at Hollypark United Methodist Church of Gardena where they served for three years. In 1975, Matthew and Mary Frances moved to what would become his final appointment at First United Methodist Church of Inglewood before he formally retired. They loved the church and the area so much they decided to purchase a home and remain members of that congregation. Matthew did temporarily take a small transition appointment at Martin Luther King United Methodist Church for a short period of time. They both continued their community service at Inglewood Adult School with Mary Frances teaching English as a second language. They then enjoyed about eight years of retirement together during which time they traveled to various family events until the passing of her dear husband in 1992.
Mary Frances spent the next 25 years of retirement visiting her children in San Francisco, San Diego, Fountain Hills, AZ, and Paris, France, as well as family in Nashville and Baltimore. She continued to be a member of the First United Methodist Church of Inglewood for 42 years, serving in many capacities including a long tenure as the Chairperson of the Pastor Parish Staff Relations Committee. Mary Frances was considered first lady emeritus and loved the fellowship. Her faith has been her consistent sustenance and filled her heart with love, gratitude and consolation over the years. Additionally, she enjoyed her time with the activities of the Mu Beta Omega Chapter of her sorority with her daughter Lillian. She and her eldest daughter Willa traveled to many sorority conferences together during these years. She valued being an independent woman and tried to live her life with grace and dignity every day. Mary Frances and Matthew were very proud that they produced five energetic, curious, and determined children whose development they were able to positively influence and assist in becoming productive adults that contribute to their communities and the world.
Mary Frances leaves to cherish her memory all five of her children, Matthew Moore Jefferson, III of Fountain Hills, AZ, Willa Frances Jefferson-Stokes of San Francisco, CA, Phyllis Marsha Foster of Los Angeles, CA, William Leon Jefferson of Paris, France, and Lillian Drew Jefferson Carr of San Diego, CA. In addition, she has one grandchild, Jeffrey Dahvid Carr, Jr., of San Diego, son of Lillian, and two devoted sons-in-law’s, James K. Stokes, Jr. and Jeffrey Carr. She has one surviving sister, Ruth Jean Haston of Nashville, and her husband William T. Haston, along with a host of nieces and nephews from Nashville, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Los Angeles. She also enjoyed a very close extended family relationship with Michael Comrie, Joseph Spann, Raymond Tyler, Priscilla Young, Maria Hill, Beatriz Negrete and many other friends and sorority sisters.
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